As I sit in amongst the breezy post-spring blues in Brighton town, I’m struck by ‘Vine’ – the first and title track in this ethereally majestic album from Jen Gloeckner.
Reminiscing the atmospheric influence of The War on Drugs, this track in particular, however, is the weakest of the bunch; I can clearly hear the words but I feel betrayed by the generics of them. Musically, however, it does amalgamate everything I’ve heard in this album; I do feel that the record could’ve been improved by removing ‘Vine’ from the album so, if you’re listening, don’t lose faith, it gets a million times better, by a happy mistake I listened to the album all jumbled up as I was sent the tracks in the wrong order.
After the rocky start I’m awoken by Middle Eastern percussive rhythms, ‘Firefly (War Dance)’, is exactly that, an electronically atmospheric homage to culture, this instrumental interlude is just what the album needed but would’ve have been better as an intro or halfway point interlude. Gloeckner’s vocals come to life in ‘Breathe’: beautifully lilting and pure surrounded by electronic chaos, a juxtaposition in stereo. ‘Ginger Ale’ delivers a strong start, straight in no messing around. Again, I’m struggling with the lyrical clarity but the piano comes in, in a Wild Beasts ‘Smother’ kind of way, and that eerie saxophone playing those fantastically Eastern melodies is too good not to love.
Squelching strings that follow a fantastic sliding bass and oriental plucks make ‘The Last Thought’ a sensation, I’m jumping in my seat at how the rhythms contrast to these amazing Eastern sounds, and how the vocals drift in and around the track and compliment the music so well, setting us up for the second half of this 11-track splendour. ‘Blowing Through’ echoes the windy day that I’m trapped indoors by, wishy washy soundscapes fill the air and propel the second half with gusto. Sending me into a daydream with ‘Counting Sheep’, the arpeggiated pulses combined with an angelic burst of guitar really set the scene, whilst a gorgeous saxophone (which is always an instrument to win me over with) drifts a choir of ‘Ooo’s’ out until we meet its end.
The music throughout this album is astounding, and I love how Gloeckner is breaking the conventional pop structure and making the musical beauty of the piece her focus point, it’s refreshing to hear. Transferred back in time with ‘Colors’, it’s a track that absorbs a rich Joni Mitchell-esque sound and beautifully compliments the orchestral soundscapes which bathe every inch of the lyrical content in a luscious glow. Although certain lyrics become hard to make out, which seems to be an ongoing issue in the album.
Gloeckner takes it slow on ‘Row With The Flow’, a beautiful waltz-like daydream torn between two voices, and it’s ruggedly sweet: “I know it’s not that easy,” a line that sums up the album. Trickling into my ears comes the finale ‘Sold’, a lyrically rich performance which shows off Gloeckner’s talent, with a chorus so gentle and lavished in harmony, its descent mirrors the lyrics: “Rolling down the hills” perfectly, by far my favourite track and what a perfect way to end the album. A shaky start from Gloeckner but boy did she save the best ‘til last.
‘Vine’, the new album from Jen Gloeckner is out now. Purchase a copy on iTunes here.